Flat Out War!
Before I scare you, I just want to assure you that this is a light and fluffy fashion-y post on flats! I just thought the title sounded catchy! Hahaha! Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers, Jill of Kikay Exchange asked for a review on Tory Burch vs. French Sole flats. To keep things spicy, I will also be throwing in Repetto and Lanvin flats into the mix! I will try my best to do an exhaustive review so that you can shop wisely, and come out tops in the world of flats.
HISTORY: Not to be mistaken with French Sole Shoes of New York (which was founded in 1978 and implicitly claims to be the original), "French Sole London was founded in 1989 by shoe designer Jane Winkworth. With a passion for ballet and ballerina style shoes and with a background of art , painting and design, Jane decided to set up the first ever â€œconceptâ€ company selling only ballet style footwear. Starting out as a Mail Order company run from the basement of Janeâ€™s home in Chelsea and with the late Princess of Wales as one of her most devoted fans, the business quickly grew and the first store in Fulham opened in 1991 with a second store in prestigious Sloane Street following later in 1997. The company now supplies over five hundred outlets, stores and concessions globally and is preparing to open two new stores in London with a further six stores planned for early next year."
COMFORT: This was my first pair of ballerina flats as an adult and I have to say, it shouldn't have been. Because it has the softest leather and the most flexible rubber soles that it feels like I'm walking barefoot! Compared to French Soles, other shoes just don't feel as comfortable. I wouldn't even trade it for cute Marc Jacobs flats because those hurt like hell! Why? French Sole leather is truly amazing! The super soft leather molds to your feet with wear, and its ribbon ties serve a purpose other than making the shoes look pretty! You can tighten or loosen the fit of the shoes by adjusting the ribbons! Just like with real ballerina flats! Really, I've been spoiled by French Sole flats so now I can only make do with the softest leather.
STYLE: This is a classic style that will last for decades! Goes with everything too! I've worn it with shorts while running errands and I've worn it with a cocktail dress to a wedding reception! So it's very versatile and worth every pence! Hehehe!
PRICE: From £55.00 to £65.00, which roughly translates to P5,000 to P6,000.
AVAILABILITY: Available through their London boutiques on Ellis Street (near Sloane Square), Marylebone Lane (near the high street mecca that is Oxford Street and the fashionable Mayfair district), and their discount store in Surrey outside London. Also available in stores in the UK like Selfridges, House of Fraser, Shoe Studio, Topshop, Bentalls and John Lewis plus many other stores worldwide. You can also buy it online through the website.
HISTORY: According to an article published in The Wall Street Journal, "Ms. Burch didn't invent the shoe. Instead, she took note of the popularity of $300 ballet flats introduced by designers such as Marc Jacobs. But rather than compete head-on with them, she and her husband set out to build a highly commercial shoe that would sell at a lower price. They formed a joint venture with Vince Camuto, a co-founder of Nine West, who enlisted his Brazilian factories to make a high-quality, affordable shoe. His creative director helped design a shoe that was sleek and low-cut, but had a sturdy shank for support and a flexible rubber sole for comfort. Elastic in the heel area made the shoes fit snugly without gaping. "We wanted a practical shoe, a sexy ballet shoe with our logo -- which we knew would sell," says Ms. Burch, who named the style after her mother Reva."
COMFORT: When I tried on a pair at the store, it was very comfortable as the leather was buttery and the semi-thick rubber sole provided just the right amount of bounce. But when I first wore it out while running errands, I realized it still needed breaking in! The elastic at the back sort of dug into the back of my heel so it it was uncomfortable to say the least. Then again, the SA told me to get a pair half a size smaller as the leather expands and the elastic at the back stretches. But hardheaded me, I still went for my real size. So now that the shoe has stretched, true enough, there is that extra space at the heel of my shoe. I guess I should have listened to her. Took a while for the shoe to feel real comfortable, but now that it is, I can walk in it for hours! So from my experience, you should either get half a size smaller or be willing to wait for the shoe to stretch!
STYLE: While the logo ornament makes this style of flats instantly recognizable (and often copied!), I am not entirely sure if this style will remain a classic, as it has only been around circa 2006. But if we let numbers do the talking, according to The Wall Street Journal article, "more than 250,000 pairs in more than a dozen shades of the Reva ballet flats have been sold". It has been declared a cult classic, although I think this claim remains to be seen! That being said, it's a simple piece with just the right hint of glam. You can wear it with a basic tee and jeans, or a plain tunic dress, just throw on a pair of big sunglasses and you'd look instantly fab no prob!
PRICE: $195 or roughly about P8,100
AVAILABILITY: Tory Burch is currently sold at their freestanding stores in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Greenwich, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA, East Hampton, Bal Harbour, Chicago and their first outlet store at Woodbury Common in NY. The collection is also available at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales stores nationwide, and at nearly 250 specialty stores throughout the United States. Outside of the US, the collection is available at Holt Renfrew, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols London and Dubai, Lane Crawford and select stores throughout Europe.
HISTORY: From Vogue US - "Rose Repetto made the very first pair of Repetto pointe shoes for her son, a dancer, in 1947, and a lot has happened since: Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov and countless more performers, male and female, have worn them. Brigitte Bardot requested that pair be fashioned with a hard sole so that she could mambo in Roger Vadim's 1956 film...And God Created Woman. It was then that the street ballerina slipper we see now on Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Sofia Coppola was born; the style has since been made in patent leather, pony hair, and suede, and in nearly every color imaginable."
COMFORT: Super comfortable! As comfortable as French Soles! Molds to the shape of the foot with wear as well! I wouldn't recommend wearing these during winter though. The leather sole is quite thin, and I made the mistake of walking ten blocks of New York City streets in these in the dead of winter. I could honestly feel the icy coldness of the concrete pavement seeping into my feet. By the time Dear Hubby and I got to our friends' place, my feet were FROZEN and I could barely move my toes! So, lesson learned: Wear only during Spring/Summer.
STYLE: Let me again quote from the November 2007 issue of US Vogue, where they declared Repettos one of the 7 Closet Classics:
"To call Repettos classic is an understatement. So what is it about them? Comfort? Surely. Elegance? That, too. Nostalgia? If you ever took a ballet class when you were a girl, probably. And if you were at all fashion conscious in the eighties, you may harbor as much love the later lace-up jazz version (which Serge Gainsbourg and Mick Jagger famously wore) as you do the pretty-bowed ballerinas. The good news is, Repettos are ubiquitous (kind of like flip-flops but much, much chicer), you can get on board the bandwagon now even if you have no history with the brand.You won't be the first, but we can guarantee you won't be the last."
PRICE: $180 to $210 which roughly translates to P7,500 to P8,700.
AVAILABILITY: Short of saying go to Paris, these are a bit hard to find as these are not as widely available as the first two. I've seen a couple at Bergdorf Goodman, and in little boutiques in most US cities. I got mine in a little shop called Bird in Brooklyn. My best bet is to search for it at finer department stores or chic little boutiques when you travel abroad. Should you go to Hong Kong, check out Lane Crawford and On Pedder. They stock Repettos! (On Pedder Jakarta carries Repettos as well.)
HISTORY: From fragrancex.com - "Founded in 1889 at 22, Rue du Faubourg Saint HonorÃ© by Jeanne Lanvin (Paris 1867 - 1946), Lanvin is the oldest Parisian fashion house. From Haute couture (1909) to men's fashion (1926), decoration (1920), and perfumes ("My Sin" in 1925, "ArpÃ¨ge" 1927), the young milliner became the Ambassador of French elegance; transforming her hat and clothing workshops into a veritable fashion empire. Jeanne Lanvin drew inspiration from her only child; Marguerite (later known as Marie-Blanche de Polignac, a talented opera singer). Marguerite succeeded her mother in 1946 and remained in charge until her death in 1958." Today, with Alber Elbaz at its helm, he has transformed the oldest fashion house into one of the hottest labels around. Under his creative direction, Lanvin came out with covetable leather flats and boots circa 2006 and up to now, the demand for these never cease.
COMFORT: I don't have one yet, so I can't really say. It's on my must have list though, as a pair of Lanvins will happily round up my collection of flats! I have tried several pairs though and I have come THISCLOSE to buying a satin with patent leather version that was on sale for $230 at Barneys, but they weren't really comfortable. Based on the other pairs I have tried though, I can say that the regular leather ones are very very comfortable. The patent leather ones are bit stiff though and may require breaking in. The elastics of the satin versions with leather trim were a bit stiff as well. So it really depends on the leather of the Lanvin flats you are getting. I would say go for the regular leather ones. I do have a pair of Lanvin boots made of regular leather, and they are super comfortable. So buttery soft I can chew it off! Hahaha! Anyway, I suggest that you pick a pair made from the same leather as below:
Lanvins also have a hidden heel so while it looks flat on the outside, it's not entirely flat. Another reason why Lanvins are so comfortable!
STYLE: A simple and classic shape with no frills. Goes with everything! Definitely a classic in my book! I'm not entirely sure if it's worth the price though.
PRICE: $495 to $545, or roughly about P20,500 to P22,500. This is what's stopping me from buying a pair! This is too much to pay for flats. Hopefully I find one on sale!
AVAILABILITY: Widely available for something so pricey. Guess that goes to show how in-demand these flats are. Check out Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and other fine department stores and boutiques. In the Philippines, Lanvin flats are available at Homme et Femme in Shangri-la Mall.
Hmmm, now that I've laid it all out for you, I guess there was no point in declaring an all-out war amongst these flats. In my opinion, they can all peacefully co-exist in your closet. Who says you can't have it all? =)
*Originally posted in Manila Fashion Observer
**Image of green shoes from stock.xchng